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BY JASON KOTOWSKI, Californian staff writer (email@example.com)
A Maricopa police officer who had already been placed on leave in a separate case has been arrested on suspicion of having sex with several minors in Kings County.
Garry Snap Ferguson, 30, was arrested Saturday at a Bakersfield residence and was being held in Kings County on $300,000 bail, according to Kings County Sheriff’s Department arrest records.
Ferguson was expected to be arraigned Monday on charges including unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, Kings County Deputy District Attorney Kathy Ciuffini said. There are three victims, Ciuffini said.
Those charges are apparently unrelated to an investigation on Ferguson that Maricopa police have said the Kern County District Attorney’s Office is conducting. Ferguson had been on paid administrative leave since April 20.
The Kern County District Attorney’s Office was not commenting or even confirming there was an investigation, the secretary of District Attorney Ed Jagels said Monday morning.
Ferguson has been with the police department since 2006, serving most recently as officer in charge, and was one of its original officers.
Monday, May 5, 2008
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Eugene Volokh (who has been doing a lot of great blogging about sex crime issues lately) has the story of a law which would unintentionally criminalize adultery in Massachusetts:
That's what would happen under a proposed statute that's being promoted by Massachusetts state representative Peter Koutoujian, and is being supported by District Attorneys Joseph D. Early Jr. and Gerard Leone.
I suspect that this isn't the goal of the drafters, but that's what the language would call for, when (as I'm pretty sure happens quite often) the cheater has sex afterwards with the regular lover without disclosing the cheating. Here's what the proposed law says:Whoever has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a person having obtained that person's consent by the use of fraud, concealment or artifice, and who thereby intentionally deceived such person so that a reasonable person would not have consented but for the deception, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life or any term of years. As used in this statute, 'fraud' or 'artifice' shall not be construed to mean a promise of future consideration.
The law was apparently proposed in response to some recent fraudulent-sex incidents, one in which a man had sex with his brother's near-sleeping girlfriend pretending to be his brother, and one in which a medical technician conducted an unnecessary pelvic exam (with his fingers, I think) after having pretended to the woman that it was necessary and that he was trained and licensed to perform such exams. But it goes much further than that: Any time someone has consensual sex (1) having gotten the consent through (a) lying or (b) concealment, and (2) a jury (or perhaps a judge) concludes that "a reasonable person would not have consented but for the deception," that's a felony, labeled as a form of rape. Promises ("I'll marry you") are excluded, but other statements — or silences — are not.
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It's unconstitutional, period. The United States Constitution and state Constitutions strictly forbid passing ex post facto (i.e. Retroactive) laws. So why is there even an issues? If the constitutions mean nothing, then why have them?
By Dirk VanderHart, USA TODAY
A federal law that requires states to establish a new system for registering sex offenders by 2009 is prompting some states to mandate retroactive registration — forcing offenders to register even if their crimes were committed before registry laws went into effect.
Under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, states have until next year to establish a tier system for offenders to register for 15 years, 25 years or life, based on the nature of their offenses.
Though the law does not mandate retroactive registration, Tennessee passed a law last July requiring it. The law applies to anyone who has ever been convicted of a sex offense that requires registration, said Kristin Helm of the Tennessee Bureau for Investigation.
At least two other states are moving in that direction:
- Michigan. The House Judiciary Committee is considering a bill that would force adults convicted of criminal sexual conduct with a child to register, regardless of conviction date.
- Missouri. A Senate committee is considering a resolution that would require almost all sex offenders to register, regardless of conviction date. If passed, the measure could appear on November ballots.
"If we're going to have a list, everybody should be on the list,"said Republican state Sen. Jason Crowell (Contact), one of the bill's sponsors.
- No they should not. The Constitution forbids ex post facto laws, which this is. You need to go back and study history, and you apparently lied when you took the oath of office to uphold the constitution, so IMO, you should be fired for lying..
The resolution seeks to upend a 2006 Missouri Supreme Court opinion that ruled retroactive registration — then common in the state — illegal under Missouri's constitution. The decision forced the removal of more than 4,300 names from the Missouri registry.
A USA TODAY search of state registry laws shows that at least 15 other states required retroactive registration prior to the Walsh Act becoming law.
U.S. law bars states from passing ex post facto laws — those that punish someone for activity committed before the law was enacted. However, retroactive enforcement of Megan's laws — the informal name for sex offender-registration laws named for New Jersey abuse victim Megan Kanka — was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003. The court found that Alaska's retroactive Megan's law was a regulatory measure, not punitive.
- It's punishment, any idiot can see that. And it's a violation of ex post facto laws. Hell, let's just get rid of all constitutions, and become a communist country, that is where it appears we are heading anyway, so let's just get it over with...
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) has been critical of the retro-registration laws.
"It's a fiction to say that this is a civil matter when this is, in fact, an extension of the criminal punishment," said Mike Kopie, co-chair of the NACDL's Sex Offender Policy Task Force.
- Well, when we have a corrupt government, who knows who's rights will be eradicated next, all in the name of security and protection, which is just a placebo anyway! Usually those who are strongly for these laws, wind up in some sex scandal years later, so maybe someone needs to investigate this persons past..
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Police have arrested a man on suspicion of incitement to commit criminal offences in relation to a website which accused six youths of the brutal killing of a sheep in a Norfolk village last month.
The website named the six individuals, saying: "We are listing the names of the people who committed this crime as the politically correct left wing state of today will not deliver justice."
It gave the address of one youth, inviting readers to "teach him a lesson", and named the cafe run by another youth's family, adding: "As the dark nights come, you can keep your hands warm with rubber gloves and pay late night visit..."
The heavily pregnant sheep was kicked and stabbed to death last month in the village of Wells. Six youths were arrested following the attack and are on bail. A Norfolk Constabulary spokesman said:
"Our priority is to ensure that those responsible are called to account and that this is done within the due process of the law. We therefore do not condone the actions of the author of the 'exposure' website."
"Our investigation in relation to this matter has led to the arrest of a male on suspicion of incitement to commit other criminal offences and the website has now been closed down."
The ease with which anonymous threats and allegations can be made online is a worry for many but, as I've argued in the past, incidents where violence is threatened or incited are thankfully rare. When they do arise they are crimes in the online world, just as they are offline.
The author of the site claimed to be legally protected because the website was hosted in America. Clearly the police disagree and, should this case go to court, we'll find out what the true legal position is.
I find it very ironic that the sheeple believe everything someone says. Now, this man, read his statements below, is a hypocrite. He has been busted in a sex scandal, and is not resigning... So what integrity is he talking about? Once again, state law makers prove, laws apply to the sheeple and not the politicians making those laws.
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RIVERSIDE — The Mad River Local School District is looking into the ramifications of having a senior convicted of sexually assaulting another student participate in commencement with his class.
"Right now any possible scenarios are being researched by the school district's attorney," Mad River Communications Director Jenny Birtle said. "We've known about this situation and we're looking into it to find out what we need to do."
Final exams remain and it's undetermined who will graduate in June, Birtle said.
Christopher Lemaster, 18, a senior at Stebbins High School, pleaded guilty April 3 to a fourth-degree felony charge of gross sexual imposition and was placed on five years probation May 1. Lemaster's attorney indicated at his sentencing that he would like to graduate with his class.
The charge stemmed from a Nov. 2 incident when Lemaster engaged in sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old sophomore who had passed out at a party after consuming alcohol and Xanax.
The girl woke up with her pants undone and abdominal pain, according to police reports. She later learned male students were circulating photos of her undressed on their cell phones. She went to a school guidance counselor Nov. 5, saying she thought she'd been raped.
DNA from a condom thrown out the window linked Lemaster to the girl, according to Riverside Det. Tom Donahue. Lemaster was arrested Feb. 22, released on $25,000 bond Feb. 28 and put in home instruction Mar. 3.
Home instruction differs from home schooling in that the student is still enrolled in the district, is guided by district teachers and follows the same curriculum as any other student.
"We're required to educate every child in the district," Birtle said. "But the number one priority is the safety of our students. These two students are not in school together and we're doing everything we can to make sure no one feels uncomfortable."
Birtle said she could not give any information on the girl's status with the district because she's under 18. Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Dennis Langer indicated at Lemaster's sentencing that she was being home-schooled due to harassment by other students.
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POTSDAM -- A California woman has pleaded guilty to raping a Potsdam boy.
Kathryn Brauch, 22, entered the plea Monday morning in St. Lawrence County Court. Brauch met the 13-year-old boy online and flew from California last summer to visit him.
In exchange for her plead, she'll get three years in prison with three years of supervised release when she gets out. She'll also have to register with the sex offender database.
The boy's mother, Maria Conklin Matthie, was also convicted and sentenced in the case. She pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child and was sentenced to a month in prison for allowing Brauch to stay at her home and have sex with her son.
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Lenore Skenazy, a columnist for the New York Sun, caused quite a stir earlier this month when she wrote about letting her 9-year-old son take a subway and bus by himself across Manhattan.
The boy had been begging her to allow him to test his big city commuting skills on his own, and she finally agreed, handing him a map, a subway token, some quarters and a $20 bill. She didn't give him her cell phone, nor did she secretly tail him as he sallied forth across Gotham alone.
Within days, Skenazy was on various television news programs, explaining why she was not, contrary to the opinion of many commentators, America's Worst Mother.
Skenazy pointed out that for a child to be abducted by a stranger is literally a one-in-a-million event (there were about 115 such abductions in the U.S. in 2006, of which about 50 resulted in the child's death. There are about 75 million children in America).
She emphasized that New York is a very safe city, with the same crime rate as Boise, Idaho. And she insisted that not allowing children to go anywhere without adult supervision is bad both for the children themselves and for parents who give free rein to their neurotic obsessions with risk and safety.
These are excellent points, and reminded me of something a friend told me recently. She lives in an upscale Denver neighborhood, with her husband and two small children.
Another of the neighborhood's young mothers (needless to say, discussions of this topic always focus on the responsibilities of mothers, as opposed to parents) had asked her if she had checked the Internet to confirm the precise location of the neighborhood's registered sex offenders.
My friend had not, but she soon realized that failing to do so could well mark her as a negligent mom among her hyper-vigilant peers. And of course by doing so her own anxiety level regarding her children's safety was raised, even though at a rational level she realizes (she's a lawyer) that a sex offender address registry doesn't tell you much of anything about actual risk.
All this reflects a more general problem regarding the many cultural and political forces pushing us to behave like a nation of hysterics.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the typical American suburb is just about the safest place that has ever existed in the history of the world — yet it's full of terrified people.
Statistics have little power in the face of a media environment in which extraordinarily rare events, such as strangers kidnapping children, are presented as commonplace by profit-hungry "news" outlets, for whom the bottom line is that fear sells.
Politicians realize this, too. The ongoing over-reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks is only the most vivid example of how our leaders cynically exploit our fears by making wildly exaggerated claims, such as that Islamic terrorism poses an "existential threat" to America.
Indeed, the reactions to Skenazy's column are a nice example of how the personal is political, and vice versa. Skenazy notes that one acquaintance told her that he requires his daughter to call home after she has walked the one block to her friend's house, even though they live in a typically crime-free suburb.
Other parents informed her they don't allow their children to walk alone to the mailbox.
This kind of thing encourages children to see the world in fear-ridden terms, and to grow up to become the sort of people more interested in having their government protect them from largely imaginary threats than in preserving their civil liberties.
At this point, we should be more afraid of having our children stolen from us by Republicans than by kidnappers.
Paul Campos is a law professor at the University of Colorado and can be reached at Paul.Campos@Colorado.edu.
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We are all used to seeing high profile professional athletes work their way down from making touchdowns to making license plates. Michael Vick being the obvious example. It a much rarer occurrence to see it work the other way Especially when the person was a convicted child molester. Appearances however can be deceiving……
Shift scene to small town Georgia. Horny high school teenagers trying to get in each other pants oblivious to any legal ramifications that may exist due to a an age difference of a year or two. It really doesn’t have to be Georgia does it? Half the kids I knew in high school were in the same pants and that was small town Pittsburgh. Bottom line, its going on small town and large city everywhere USA……
Here is the kicker….. In small town Georgia three plus years ago, a minor age differential between a few older teenage boys and slightly younger girls propelled several teenagers into “pedophile hell” finally ending up as convicted felons with sex offender tags following them for life.
So was the story of both Marcus Dixon (On Oprah) and Genarlow Wilson.
Marcus Dixon was convicted in May 2003 for the statatory rape and aggravated child molestation of Kristie Brown. Marcus was 17 years old and Kristie was just under 16 at the time they had sex. At the time the Georgia Aggravated Child Molestation statute, a crime designed to punish true pedophiles had no exception for consenting teens so close in age as many other states such as Texas had. It also carried a mandatory 10 year prison term and mandatory registration as a sex offender upon release for prison. What amounts to a life ending set of circumstances.
There was no doubt that there was sex and there was no doubt of the age difference. Open and shut case. Amid public outrage the jury had absolutely no choice but to sentence both Marcus Dixon and Genarlow Wilson to ten years in prison. (the jury did not know of the mandatory sentence when guilt was assessed which is normal in criminal cases)
Public Outrage continued during both Dixons’s and Wilson’s imprisonment. Appeals ensued. The Georgia Supreme Court finally reversed the Dixon conviction ruling 18-year-old Marcus Dixon should have been prosecuted just on the lesser charge of misdemeanor statutory rape rather than aggravated child molestation for having sex with a 15-year-old in February 2003. The ruling let the statutory rape conviction, which carries a maximum sentence of one year and a $1,000 fine, stand. Dixon had long served that portion of his sentence and was released.
Dixon later enrolled in Hampton College on a football scholarship. He had an outstanding collegiate career and while not drafted was signed just the other day to a 3 year multi million dollar free agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys.
Marcus Dixon is not the only Georgia teen to be caught up in the Georgia “Pedophile Express”
Genarlow Wilson was also a young Georgia teen and promising athlete who made the mistake of letting his teen hormones jettison him to a promising prison football career with a sex offender tag to boot.
Genarlow videotaped himself having sex with a drunk teen girl slightly younger than himself. The tape proved to be judge jury and executioner. That was all the state needed to once again prosecute and prove aggravated chid molestation. Bing! Bang! Bam! Guilty and Ten Years in the Booty Hilton for the 17 year old with only the wonderful world that waits for Registered Sex Offenders to greet him upon return….
After over three years behind bars, Genarlo’s conviction was also overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court on the grounds that the punishment for teen sex was cruel and unusual as compared to the crime.
It should also be noted that in the interim the Georgia Legislature had reformed the law to bring it into the mainstream and make the conduct both Genarlo and Marcus engaged in a misdemeanors punishable by one year in jail with no sex offender tag.
Genarlo has since gone onto college and we shall see what his future holds for him…..
Let there be no mistake here. Neither of these kids were choirboys. Both were accused of the much more serious charge of felony rape but acquitted on those charges. There were many facts brought out in both cases that could lead reasonable people to disagree on whether these teens were in fact bad kids….. it was not cut and dry.
There were also serious racial overtones to both these cases. Not race cards…. In my opinion legitimate concerns about racial targeting in small town Georgia.
Mr Tibbs would not have approved……
You can read my coverage of the original Genarlo Wilson case here.
View the article here | Suicide Note (Anybody could've wrote!)
I personally feel like this was murder, there was apparently a lot of people who could've been exposed on her black book, so it was a threat to those involved. I wonder if the Hustler guy has a copy of the list? And if he will come out with it? Only time will tell, maybe... It would not surprise me if this video vanishes either. But that is just my opinion.
Related: Overwhelming Evidence Points To Murder Of DC Madam
Fox News' Geraldo has Alex Jones on to examine the evidence that shows that DC Madam Deborah Jean Palfrey was murdered-- despite the official claim that she committed suicide.
Jones points out the numerous statements Palfrey made in refutation of suicide, as well as the criminology that women rarely hang themselves, generally preferring pills.
Geraldo and two co-hosts admit they agree with Alex Jones-- that claims of Palfrey's suicide are "stinky" and suspicious and that the case should be further investigated.
One woman even says that the John's on Palfreys list-- including many high-level politicians-- should be revealed and prosecuted.
Palfrey's hi-rise apartment manager in Florida says he saw Palfrey only days before her death when she told him a contract may be out on her life. Additionally, she made arrangments to secure her apartment for the next six years-- the approximate time she expected to be in prison--seemingly pointing to the idea that she expected to stay alive.
And he is sending the person, a EXE, which apparently allows them to take control of someones machine, or something else? I have saved these videos. Must be some kid, documenting their illegal "hacking" skills. He sent the person a program, which the idiot accepted and ran it, that allowed this person to map a drive to the "victims" machine and to take control of it, and browse around. This shit is totally illegal, and I wonder how the FBI would like to receive that video? Their account is here.
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School officials concerned about planned housing
FRONT ROYAL — Some of the men being helped by the House of Hope homeless shelter take offense at the suggestion that they may pose a threat to children at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School.
Pamela M. McInnis, superintendent of Warren County Public Schools, stated in an April 25 letter to the Front Royal Town Council and the Warren County Board of Supervisors that the House of Hope's plan to rent apartments at 19 E. Second St., near E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School, is not in the best interests of pupils there.
Last week, the Town Council agreed to hold a public hearing on May 12 to decide whether to amend the town code so that lodging or boarding houses, which the town says the House of Hope would fall under, would require a special-use permit to operate.
Robert Crow, 47, pays $475 a month to rent an apartment from the House of Hope, and he takes it as a personal insult that someone would say he poses a threat to elementary pupils.
"I don't really want anybody to come up right directly in front of my face and say something like that to me," Crow said Tuesday. "I just found myself in a bad spot."
Crow said he was laid off six months ago from Royal Custom Trim, and when his bills started piling up, he found himself homeless. Crow said he raised two children and is a fourth-generation Marine, having spent six years in the Corps.
"These ladies with the House of Hope mean the world to me," Crow said, adding that he now works for Pittman's Tree & Landscaping. "They've given me my life back. I have no idea what I would have done or where I would have gone without them."
Mark Lewis, 49, who rents an apartment at 19 E. Second St., also takes offense at the prospect that he might pose a threat to nearby schoolchildren. Lewis said he is the father of two children and raised four others who weren't his. He said he is not a sex offender or a pedophile.
"Yeah, that does kind of offend me because we're just trying to make it, and we finally get help, and people don't want to help us," Lewis said.
Leslie Gardner, executive director of the House of Hope, said the organization has been renting a three-bedroom, one bathroom house at 722 Warren Ave. since the first week in December, and that there are 11 homeless men who live there.
Gardner said the House of Hope is not in compliance with town zoning ordinances at that location, and that with town regulations in mind, the organization signed a year's lease with the rental agent who represents the property owner at 19 E. Second St., Dr. Philip E. Wine, who used a building connected to apartments that he owns for his dentistry practice.
"The misunderstanding is we're not using the office space of this location," Gardner said, adding that it's Dr. Wine's former office, not the apartments, that abuts the playground at E. Wilson Morrison.
Gardner said one of the reasons the House of Hope signed a lease to rent the apartments for $2,700 a month is that in applying for a state grant for $2,500 to $3,000 a bed, the shelter had to list a facility in compliance with town code.
"Those apartments were for rent," Gardner said. "We needed to go someplace that was in compliance and it is in compliance. We have until June 1 to do that."
Gardner also is miffed at the notion that the men who live at 19 E. Second St. pose a threat to the children. The plan is to relocate all the homeless men, as many as 25, to 19 E. Second St., with those who have jobs paying rent, Gardner said.
"I don't know where pedophile, violent crime and all of these started becoming synonymous to homelessness," Gardner said. "I had said a long time ago, and I stick with it, homelessness is a state of economics, not the profile of a person. These are men that are trying to put their lives back together because of incarceration, because of unpaid parking tickets or driving tickets or unpaid child support. These men are fathers. They are sons. They are brothers."
Gardner said the School Board and McInnis are selling the homeless short as far as being a good neighbor to E. Wilson Morrison.
"I would like to challenge them that my men are safer than many men or many persons within that direct community," Gardner said. "I'm a better neighbor than they'll ever have."
Greg Palmer, 51, a resident at 722 Warren Ave., said that like the other homeless men, he was screened before being admitted. Gardner added that all of the men undergo an extensive intake process that eliminates sex offenders.
"I mean, before I was even able to walk in the door, the first thing [that] was asked, was I a pedophile. Of course I'm not," Palmer said. "These people are supplying a service to us, and it's very necessary. They have women's shelters, dog shelters, but they don't have a men's. I'm a little disappointed the way the system works. I think they all assume we're these people who are drunk and laying in gutters and that's not the truth of the matter. Yes, we have some people who may have drinking problems, may have drug problems, but we try to address all problems here. I just think it's a wonderful program, and it gives the men a lot of opportunity."
*Contact Ben Orcutt at firstname.lastname@example.org
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I'm happy to be a member of a recently formed Internet Safety Technical Task Force, but it has caused me to feel a bit of a disconnect. One of the major goals of the task force is to explore whether it's possible to use technology to verify the age of people signing up for social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to give parents more control over whether their kids can use these services and to avoid inappropriate online contact between kids and adults. Yet, the first four experts to address the task force painted a picture that causes me to wonder if such technology would be helpful even if it could be employed.
The task force was formed in February as a result of an agreement between MySpace and 49 state attorneys general. The group consists of representatives of major Internet and social-networking services including MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, AOL, Google and Yahoo, along with officials from companies that offer age- and identity-verification technology. Several non-profit organizations are also represented, including ConnectSafely.org, which I co-founded with Anne Collier. (Disclosure: ConnectSafely receives financial support from several social-networking companies.)
The task force is a welcome intervention into what has been a nasty war of words. For the past couple of years, several attorneys general, lead by Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Roy Cooper of North Carolina, had been hammering at MySpace and other social networks because of the perceived danger of predators using the sites to contact children.
But that's not what the task force heard from a panel of experts who actually know something about how kids can be harmed online. At its meeting in Washington on Wednesday, members heard from researchers Michelle Ybarra, from Internet Solutions for Kids; Janis Wolak, from the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center; Amanda Lenhart, from the Pew Internet & American Life Project; and Danah Boyd, a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Information at the University of California-Berkeley and a fellow at Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
Drawing from several surveys and studies, all of the researchers said the risk of a child being forced into sex from an online predator is almost non-existent. And in the relatively few cases where a youth does engage in sex with someone they first met online, the young person is almost always compliant in some fashion.
That doesn't excuse the adult - having sex with someone under the age of consent is rightfully a serious crime. But as part of what we need to know to better protect kids, it's important to realize that deception is rarely involved. Most teens are aware of the approximate age and intentions of the adults who contact them. Only 5 percent of the offenders pretend to be teens. In some cases, the kids themselves are being aggressive and sexually suggestive and pose in ways to make them look older than they are.
When unwanted sexual solicitations do occur, most youths deal with them appropriately. Two-thirds of youths didn't view the solicitations as serious or threatening and "almost all youths handled unwanted sexual solicitations easy and effectively," according to data reported by Wolak.
Researchers reiterated that the overwhelming majority of kids who are sexually exploited are victims of people they know from the off-line world. And they pointed out that children have a far greater chance of being harassed or "cyberbullied" by peers than by adults, and that nearly half of the cases of sexual solicitation were teen to teen.
- So this answers the question I'd asked over and over about these studies, and that is, how many sexual solicitations online are from adults or other teens, and this answers the hunch I had.
Please don't interpret these findings as being soft on predators or oblivious to the dangers on the Internet. Everyone in the room was deeply committed to protecting kids from the very real harms that do exist. But in the interest of safety it's important to not confuse the perceived risks with the likely ones. To do so would be like worrying about some horrible but rare disease while failing to wear seat belts, washing your hands and flossing your teeth.
The task force's main mandate is to explore age-verification technology that would make it a lot harder to claim you're 14 when you're actually 12 or that you're 17 when you're really 40. Social networks have age restrictions (typically kids have to be at least in their teens) but they now rely on user-supplied birth dates.
Some attorneys general want to see the electronic equivalent of showing an ID at the door. There are companies represented on the task force with tools that might be able to accomplish this including Aristotle, IDology and Sentinel Tech. But Sentinel Chief Executive John Cardillo told me age- and identity-verification schemes typically rely on credit reports and other data that is accessible for most adults but generally not available for people under 17. One could, in theory, access school, birth or Social Security records, but for a variety of good reasons, these databases are off-limits to private entities.
Though the task force has yet to hear from any age-verification vendors, I'm keeping an open mind about the efficacy of the technology. Yet, even if age verification is possible, I still question whether it's desirable. I worry about some teens - including victims and youths questioning their sexual identity - being harmed because they're denied access to online support services that could help them or even save their lives.
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So now, you are going to have to double the work force to look after the "normal" shelter and more for the "sex offender" shelter. Come on. Why not have armed policemen in the shelters? This is just pure insanity.... I'm sure they will tell sex offenders next, in the state of an emergency, please report to the nearest police station or prison... Watch and see...
Albany County legislator wants sex offenders kept from being housed with general public during emergencies
ALBANY -- A county legislator will introduce a measure next week that would further restrict the movements of convicted sex offenders in times of emergencies.
Sponsored by Gary Domalewicz, the proposal would establish a new local law preventing sex offenders from being housed in emergency shelters with the general population. The proposed law is intended to protect Albany County residents, particularly children, who have to take shelter in public places during times of crisis.
- Yeah, yeah, I've heard this a million times. Not using our brain are we?
Convicted sex offenders should be placed in a separate facility during a public emergency, the proposal states. Sex offenders would be required to disclose their status when checking into an emergency shelter. It's not clear what penalties offenders who don't comply would face.
- So are you going to run everyone through some criminal check when they report to a shelter, putting their lives in danger due to some tornado or hurricane, due to the time it takes? Do you really expect all sex offenders to obey this?
A similar law has been approved in Suffolk County, Domalewicz said.
Domalewicz said the idea came to him, he said, in light "of all these emergencies, floods out in the Midwest and fires in California. These people were going to shelters, and I said to myself, 'What happens to these Level 3 sex offenders corralled into a high school gym with all these kids?' "
"Hopefully, on the local level we'll never have to implement it, but it should be available," he said.
Domalewicz, who represents an Albany district, intends to introduce the proposed law at the Legislature's monthly meeting on May 12. More than likely it will be referred to the Law Committee for review and a date for a public hearing -- all new laws require hearings -- will be set.
The earliest a vote could come would be the June 9 meeting. If passed by the 39-member body, it would take effect immediately.
The law would mandate county departments to provide a separate shelter for sex offenders and require that sex offenders be directed to these shelters.
Domalewicz has one location in mind where sex offenders could be housed. He said it could be "very easy for us to implement this, because already about 30 convicted sex offenders are in the Capital District Psychiatric Center on New Scotland Avenue, and that would be an ideal place for us in Albany County" to place them in an emergency." He said he planned to recommend that to Sheriff James Campbell.
In 2006, the County Legislature passed a law barring Level 2 and 3 sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools and child-care centers. Similar laws exist in at least six local counties.
A year ago, state statistics showed that some 335 registered sex offenders resided in Albany County, of whom 114 were classified as Level 2, which indicates a moderate risk of offending again. Seventy-one were classified as Level 3, indicating a high risk.
Last fall, a parolee convicted of sodomy more than 20 years ago filed the first lawsuit against Albany County challenging its sex-offender restriction law on constitutional grounds. The lawsuit is pending. DeMare can be reached at 454-5431 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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OLYMPIA -- Washington is not unique in its struggle with where to put sex offenders who have no place to sleep when they get out of prison.
Nor did the state set a precedent with the decision to order convicted rapist David Torrence to wear a GPS tracking device and live under a Snohomish bridge.
But when Torrence hacked off the equipment and went on the lam, forcing his victim to live again in fear, it spotlighted how the Department of Corrections arrived at this situation.
And why it could happen again.
"We're not fond of this 'under the bridge' plan. It emerges as the best of what you've got to work with when dealing with these offenders," Washington Secretary of Corrections Eldon Vail said Friday.
Corrections officials across the country confront daily the challenge of sex offenders without an apartment, shelter or motel room to bed down at night.
In Florida, when authorities ran out of places in Miami-Dade County in 2007, they set up an encampment for sex offenders under a bridge linking Miami to Miami Beach.
It's not that bad in Washington. Yet in the past 18 months, 74 convicted sex offenders released from prison have registered as homeless. Vail said some surely did get placed under bridges, just like Torrence.
The state spent months trying without success to find Torrence a home. Finally, on his release April 20, the decision was made to designate a bridge over U.S. 2 his residential base.
Three days later, he was gone, and the search continues today.
- So tell me again how residency restrictions and GPS protected this victim? I know they have not been harmed again, but this did nothing...
Vail spoke with The Herald on Friday about the case, the difficulty of finding housing for homeless offenders and whether letting them live in trailers on prison grounds could be an option.
Q: Why must sex offenders (sometimes) be put under a bridge?
A: This is a last resort. We only release sex offenders homeless when there is no other alternative for us under the laws of the state of Washington. When the person committed the crime makes a big difference in what kind of authority the department has over an individual offender.
- And this particular person, was put under a bridge, and was deemed very likely to commit another crime, and was very close to his original victim. What kind of thinking is this???
Q: I'm not sure if living under the Snohomish bridge is legal. So, if Torrence got arrested for illegal camping, he might have landed back behind bars and might have made the state liable for something.
A: I had not thought about that. I wasn't aware that it was illegal. If he got violated he would be back in custody. That would be an interesting situation. It is my understanding we chose that site in coordination with local law enforcement. It is not atypical of what we've done in other parts of the state.
- Well, why don't you people think about all the issues before doing something like this? No thinking is how accidents happen.
Q: Was he the first to ever be assigned to live under a bridge?
A: No. And I am not sure we actually "assign" them to live under a bridge. They have nowhere to go, yet they have to be in one place during curfew hours. Sites get determined so we can check on them.
- Yes you assigned him to live under a bridge, you said it yourself above. You could not find a place for him to stay, so he was told to live under a bridge.. Stop the doublespeak!!!
Q: Since Torrence's escape, have you made any changes in supervising other homeless sex offenders?
Q: Requiring victims to be notified when their attacker escapes supervision by removing their tracking devices seemed like a no-brainer. Why wasn't it happening already?
- Because they cannot think past two seconds.. Not until something happens, then they have the typical knee-jerk reaction.
A: We didn't think of it. Currently our notification requirements follow the state law. We didn't think of the impact of this new technology and neither did the Legislature in all of our conversations with them about GPS. We simply missed it. I would put it in the category of no-brainer. We should have thought of it and we didn't. We have apologized to the victim for our oversight.
- This just shows you, they do not do much thinking on ANYTHING they do, not until after the fact... What would've happened if he went after the original victim and did something to that person again? Would you blame yourself? I doubt it.. So an apology makes it all better? THINK FOR GODS SAKE BEFORE YOU MAKE AND PASS SOME DRACONIAN LAW!!!
Q: On May 1, there were 20,015 sex offenders registered in this state. At least 500 are listed as homeless in Washington State Patrol databases. How much danger are we living with?
A: Look at this over a period of 15 to 20 years. Twenty years ago we didn't know where any sex offenders were. I believe we are all better off knowing where the sex offenders live rather than homeless. So, yes, we're probably safer when people have an approved address with four walls and a roof over their head.
- You did not answer the question... How much danger are we living with???
It's also produced this group we can't find homes because of the notification process. People don't want sex offenders in their back yards. We have a different problem than we had 20 years ago.
Under more recent sentencing laws known as determinate-plus, the number of people meeting the criteria and getting out homeless is getting less and less. Determinate-plus means the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board has the authority to allow us to keep them locked up when they have no residence to release to. We don't put people under a bridge because we want to.
- And keeping someone locked up after they have done their time, just because of some technicality, is wrong... It's your screw up, fix the problem!!! You are punishing them again, because you cannot create laws that work, admit it... Well, you put this one person under a bridge, now didn't you?
Q: Many states face a similar problem of homeless sex offenders. In Washington, can we find them all homes?
A: Can we house all the homeless offenders? We haven't figured out how to yet. There were some noble efforts by legislators to try and get their arms around this in the last couple of legislative sessions. Do you remember the molester motels? That was the same problem with a different solution. We want to find them a place to stay where it is safer for all of us.
- What the hell is this comment? You are assuming all sex offenders living in a motel are molesters. That shows you are really ignorant on the issues. And yes, that offends me and I am not in that state.
Q: Why can't they be housed in trailers on the grounds of the prisons?
A: I had thought of that, but it doesn't solve the problem. They are free citizens, although with the restrictions of community supervision. We have some control over where they can go, but they have rights to move around freely and go to work, to the store, to town, to church, etc. Think about what would happen if we housed sex offenders in trailers on the prison grounds at Monroe or Walla Walla. I suspect the communities would be concerned with this as a solution to the problem and rightly so. It doesn't necessarily solve the problem, but I can't say I haven't thought about it.
- And I personally would rather be homeless that living at a prison outside of prison. People are just going to have to accept that they have to live somewhere. This is just going to be an unending shuffle, and wasting tons of money from law suits, and other issues.
Q: Some lawmakers talk of building halfway houses. Do you support that?
A: Yes, I absolutely do, but it gets to the issue of how do you site them. I would argue it is better for the homeless sex offenders to be somewhere and not under a bridge. I don't know if our communities are ready for it.
- Not when the media and politicians continually give out false facts and whip the public into a frenzy for ratings and brownie points. When people have no place to live and are homeless, everybody is in more danger, because it puts the offender under more stress and stress just adds to the problem and recidivism rates go up... That is not rocket science..
Q: Do you think any new laws are needed as a result of this case?
A: Not for me, but that doesn't mean there aren't policymakers out there who see a way to try and fix the situation. I don't know what law would be passed that would fix the problem.
- I do not think the problem will ever be fixed, not until the public is aware of the issues. Anytime someone creates a housing complex for sex offenders, when several move in, the public starts raising hell, then the shuffle continues... It's a neverending cycle.. If there is a sex offender motel and everyone knows sex offenders live there, then everyone is safer, you will have to learn to accept it, or continue to play the shuffling game....
Q: Has the governor asked you for anything?
A: No, we have not had that conversation.
Q: Rep. Al O'Brien, D-Mountlake Terrace, wants the maximum penalty for disabling or removing a GPS device to be life in prison. Do you agree?
A: I don't know. We'll need to talk about how to enhance the penalty. There should be significant penalties for this.
- I personally don't. That is not going to stop anything, except overflow the prison system. GPS has many flaws. If sex offenders were getting treatment, have a steady job and home, then the recidivism rates drop, which is good. But all this stress magnifies the issues and the recidivism skyrockets..
Q: The big question is this: Can you prevent another escape like David Torrence?
A: No. Next time, if there is a victim enrolled, we will make sure they are notified. But there is nothing fail-safe about the GPS. The good news is that with GPS we will know the offender has decided he is not going to play by the rules and we can get the warrant out for his arrest.
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Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (Contact) says a parent's right to know about convicted sex offenders living in their community outweighs an offender's ability to have themselves removed from the list after serving their debt to society.
According to a new Deseret News/KSL Dan Jones poll, while 69 percent of Utah residents polled said some sex offenders are a greater threat to the community than others, 54 percent said convicted sex offenders definitely should not have a right to a court hearing to determine if they are a danger to the community and thus have their names taken off the public list.
- So where is the link to this "poll?" I'd like to see it, if it exists!
Shurtleff said he's not surprised by the poll numbers.
"It's nice to have some validation," Shurtleff said. "You had your hearing when you were convicted of the crime. When you balance the potential of some future harm to the community against a parent's right to know, the courts have always sided with the parent's right to know."
The Utah Supreme Court is currently mulling an appeal brought by a convicted sex offender who claims the Utah Sex Offender Registry violates his constitutional right to due process.
Steven Arthur Briggs was convicted of sexually abusing a 9-year-old girl in 1986 and sentenced to serve 15 years in prison. Having served his time, Briggs was told by prison officials in 2002 that he would have to register as a sex offender and be listed on the Utah Sex Offender Registry, which can be accessed by the public. The registry lists the names, photos, addresses of sex offenders as well as the offense they committed.
Briggs refused to sign the paperwork. He was later charged with failing to register as a sex offender between 2003 and 2005. The court sentenced Briggs to two consecutive years in jail, with all but 61 days credit for time served.
In his appeal, Briggs argues the registry stigmatizes all sex offenders as sexual predators, even those who have no history of repeat offenses. He also claims the registry publicly shames offenders, many of whom have served their debt to society.
- And I agree with this person. All people have constitutional rights, period. If sex offender rights are wiped out, then why aren't all criminals rights wiped out as well?
Briggs says he should have a right to seek a court hearing to prove that he is not a danger to the community and thus should not be placed on the registry.
The state argues that the registry simply states facts about a person's convictions and that a parent's right to know who lives near their children outweighs an offender's interests.
- Ok, then why aren't ALL CRIMINALS on a registry? Sex offenders are not the only people who harm children. You have murderers, drug dealers, DUI offenders, etc..
Shurtleff said he recently added his support to a U.S. Supreme Court brief stating that parents have a right to know about sex offenders and that this interest outweighs a sex offender's right to have him or herself removed from the registry. Two cases from two federal circuit appellate courts are currently being considered by the nation's top court.
- Where is the law that states parents have this right? It's one of them implied laws, which no law actually exists, like the IRS taxing people. Same thing. If they have a right, then we all have a right to know about ALL CRIMINALS, that includes public officials who solicited a prostitute, have some drug or DUI charges, etc. If it's good for sex offenders, then it should apply to everyone, period!
"People feel strongly that they have a right to know so they can protect their kids," Shurtleff said.
If the Utah Supreme Court sides with Briggs, Shurtleff said he probably will take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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POMONA - A proposed ordinance calling for adding residency restrictions and loitering restrictions for sex offenders will go before the City Council tonight.
The proposed ordinance calls for adding locations where children gather, which are not included in the city's current sex offender ordinance. That ordinance was adopted in November 2005.
Among the places that sex offenders would be barred from living near would be preschools, child-care centers, and tutoring or learning centers.
One of the necessary steps to enact the new ordinance would be repealing the existing one.
The public portion of the meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers, 505 S. Garey Ave.
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By DANIEL BROWNSTEIN (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Two state House bills supported by law enforcement in Beaufort County -- one that would eliminate parole and a second that would require certain sex offenders to serve more prison time -- failed to be sent to the state Senate last week by the deadline.
But neither is quite dead yet.
The House of Representatives and the Senate each have a May 1 deadline to send bills to the other body for consideration. After May 1, it becomes much tougher to do so.
The bills, a so-called truth in sentencing law that would eliminate parole for most felonies and a second that would require people convicted of performing lewd acts on a minor to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence, remain in the House.
Currently, people convicted of crimes deemed nonviolent, such as performing a lewd act upon a child, are eligible for parole after serving about a quarter of their sentence. Those convicted of violent crimes must serve at least 85 percent of their prison terms.
That issue gained attention in Beaufort County last year when Philip Underwood-Sheppard, a former Coosa Elementary School music teacher who molested nine boys, became eligible for parole.
Underwood-Sheppard pleaded guilty to nine counts of indecent exposure, seven counts of performing a lewd act upon a child and one count of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.
He began serving a 25-year sentence in 2002, but because the form of child molestation he was convicted of is considered nonviolent in South Carolina, he was eligible for parole last year.
Underwood-Sheppard waived his parole hearing at the last minute after relatives of the victims traveled to Columbia to urge a three-member panel to keep him in prison.
Solicitor Duffie Stone and Sheriff P.J. Tanner have been advocates for both bills. While they support classifying lewd acts as a violent crime, both also are pushing to eliminate parole altogether.
The state's crime classifications and parole eligibility make it difficult for Stone to explain to victims how much time a criminal will actually serve, he said. Collecting signatures and pushing to keep a convict behind bars is a painful process for crime victims and their families.
"I think you should count on the truth when you walk into the courtroom," Stone said. "I don't see how you can sentence someone to something that is a lie."
Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said both bills could be still considered this year if they are successfully attached as amendments to other related legislation that the Senate is eager to pass.
He said he plans to "work the room" to get more support.
"I think we'll get them out of committee and attached to bills in the next few weeks," he said. "That's not to say they'll definitely pass, but it's the vehicle to do so."